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Trick or Vote History and Overview

Page history last edited by Alex Aronson 15 years, 5 months ago

Here's a quick overview to help get you acquainted with Trick or Vote. As you look it over, identify the goals and objectives that line up with your own. Maybe you want to engage a ton of first-time volunteers. Maybe you want to distribute thousands of voter guides to inform your community about local issues. Maybe you want to turn out young voters. Maybe you just want to dress up in costume. (That's cool..)  In any case, this information is here to help you create the event that you envision. We're just here to serve....and spook.


About Trick or Vote


Trick or Vote is a massive costumed get-out-the-vote canvass that happens on Halloween, just a few days before the general election. Volunteers trick-or-vote, knocking on thousands doors, reminding people to vote instead of asking for candy. Studies show that face-to-face contact is the single most effective method to boost voter turnout—increasing participation by as much as 8–12%.


This year, as a collaborative endeavor with 25 participating groups, Trick or Vote will be in over 20 cities and will distribute voter guides and vote reminders in what will be the nation’s largest non-partisan get-out-the-vote canvass. Our collective efforts aim to knock on over 100,000 doors and engage thousands of volunteers.


Past Success 


In 2004, with almost no formal coordination, Trick or Vote was executed in 11 cities across the country. Even at its nascent stage, the concept drew multiple media hits, including the Wall Street Journal



In Oregon alone—the pilot location where success was closely tracked—the 2004 event drew over 800 volunteers and knocked over 30,000 doors—the largest mass canvass in state history. The Trick or Vote concept resonated well with young people and first time political volunteers: of the 800 volunteers who signed in, 227 of them checked a box marking Trick or Vote as their first ever volunteer political experience. The pilot event received major coverage in all three major area newspapers and on the three largest major television stations. This event was conducted with a budget of $25,000.



In the 2006 midterm election, Trick or Vote Oregon drew over 500 volunteers, knocked over 20,000 doors, and dropped 25,000 voter guides. Young voters (18-30) in targeted precincts turned out at a 5% higher rate than voters in similar, non-targeted precincts.


The event has garnered national media attention from outlets like the Wall Street Journal, in addition to broad local TV, radio, and newspaper coverage.


Project Goals


(1) Increased young voter turnout: Each partner group will set a voter contact and

voter guide distribution goal.

(2) Volunteer recruitment: Coalition partners will recruit hundreds of volunteers for

both this effort and to build long-term capacity. Using fun and effective organizing

techniques, the project aims to continue the ongoing effort of engaging a new

generation of change agents.

(3) Earned media: Trick or Vote offers a visual and timely media story. Partner

groups are recruiting celebrity canvassers; 2004 and 2006 participants included Jadakiss,

Jim Hightower, Edward Norton and Art Alexakis of Everclear. Efforts are underway to

secure celebrity participation for the 2008 events.

(4) A Lasting Model: Trick-or-Vote 2008 aims to build upon a proven program that

can be copied by others and replicated for years to come.


Measurable Outcomes


(1) Doors Knocked: Number of doors knocked. A good trick-or-voter should be able

to knock on 20+ doors per hour. An average of 50 doors per volunteer would be a

respectable expectation. Accordingly, 500 trick-or-voters could reach roughly 25,000 


(2) Voter Guides Distributed: Street teams and trick-or-voters will distribute localized

voter guides.  

(3) Increase in Voter Turnout: Trick-or-Vote aims to increase voter turnout in

targeted areas, both by generating buzz and media, as well as by direct voter contact.

There is a difficult issue of causality here, as there will be multiple inputs. Partner

groups should track voter turnout in their target precincts compared to similar areas

without Trick-or-Vote. In conjunction with David Nickerson of Notre Dame/Yale

University, plans are underway to conduct a controlled experiment of Trick or Vote

 2008 and its impact on turnout, as well as its impact on down ballot performance. 

(4) Total Volunteers Organized: A successful Trick-or-Vote should be able to

mobilize hundreds of volunteers. In Oregon, organizers plan to mobilize at least

1,000 volunteers.

(5) First Time Volunteers Organized: Trick-or-Vote is a unique opportunity to reach

out to young people and first-time volunteers. Organizers should track the

percentage of first-time volunteers engaged.

(6) Media Hits: A target media hit goal will be set once partnerships are finalized.

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